You Can't Say That On Television: NPR Correspondent Loses His Job After Making Racially Tinged Remarks on FOX

Friday, October 22, 2010

This week, NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams was fired, after saying on "The O'Reilly Factor" that he was fearful when seeing passengers dressed in Muslim garb aboard airplanes.

Williams may not be alone in feeling this way — but saying those things are a different matter. How do these stereotypes get into our minds? And what happens when a person crosses the line between thinking something and saying it? 

Valerie Purdie-Vaughns studies what we say about the way we think. She runs the Intergroup Relations & Diversity Laboratory at Columbia University.


Comments [26]

a g from n j

are we saying one cannot be a reasonable person and express reasonable apprehensions at the same time? you,npr,are telling us that no one could,should have these thoughts while at the same time being able to discern the difference between what is politically expedient bull, and the reality of the world as is? so, is it that we only allow conservatives to assume the right to express, what reasonable progressives think and express only behind closed doors? is that the censorship that npr is imposing on us. if so,with friends like you [npr] ,who needs fox.............

Oct. 25 2010 06:39 AM

The Takeaway chose the least important and least interesting aspect of this story to examine. And it ignored the most compelling part of this story.

The least important and least interesting question is what did Juan Williams really mean, and whether there was any bigotry. In the larger context of Williams' compete comments, he was clearly not expressing any bigotry; he was advocating the opposite. And in the wider context of Williams' lifetime of work as an author and commentator on civil rights issues, he is obviously not a bigot.

The most compelling issue, that The Takeaway wanted to duck, is what this issue says about NPR and its leadership. Has NPR in any way consistently enforced the rule that they have applied to Juan Williams? (Clearly they have not.) Is this part of a pattern of NPR catering to a left-leaning, Republican-hating, Fox-loathing audience?

It has been suggested that this latest incident was merely the last in a long line of Juan Williams offenses against NPR standards.

I would suggest that this is, in truth, the latest incident in a long line of NPR offenses against any semblance of political balance.

Oct. 24 2010 01:08 AM
I.M.Knotfooled from Bklyn NYC

What a Crock

Public Radio plays the game that NPR is not Public Radio. Public Radio Stations support and give Money to NPR. They have more say than anyone. - The Golden Rule

It seems the Socialists at the Takeaway are more than happy to silence a Black Man for voicing his views.

Now Juan Williams , a real Liberal has only Fox News that will allow him to voice his opinion.

Does anyone really believe an NPR reporter anymore? Are they reporting the truth or holding back because they don't want to be fired!

Thought Police.............................

The Far left and John Hockenberry........using the call of the Shrink to police everyone.......................

Sounds like the old USSR.................if you talk out of go to the Mental Hospital

John Hockenberry's Brave New World of the MIND

Oct. 24 2010 12:19 AM
Yvonne from Park Slope

I am a dedicated WNYC listener and, in response to the recent firing of NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams, I find that I am very disappointed in NPR.

As I understand it, Williams was fired by NPR after saying Monday that he gets nervous on planes when he sees people in Muslim dress and NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said Thursday that controversial opinions should not come from NPR reporters or news analysts. Well, I have been mugged several times and I get nervous late at night walking down the street if a young Black male is approaching me and no one else is around ... especially if he is approaching me from behind as this is how I have been mugged but ...


He did state his opinion which was that generalizations should not be made about all Muslims. If despite his own opinion, he gets nervous anyway, isn't that just being human. This sounds like the Shirley Sherrod situation all over again in that something is taken out of context that apparently meant the reverse of how it was interpreted!! To me, he seemed to be saying he sometimes feels X but what he really believes is Y. In other words, he seems to be offering a teaching moment to a conservative audience: You can feel discomforted and not let that distort what you think and believe. Real life is complex.

As an African-American, I am highly suspect of the real feelings of White or Black folks who interpret every mention of discomfort regarding ethnicity or religion as bigotry.

NPR needs an attitude "correction"!!!

Oct. 23 2010 06:00 PM
Palmer from Cape Cod

Has anyone considered that Williams actions could have been an intentional breach of contract in order to get out of his deal with NPR and get a ( I assume) more lucrative deal with FOX? They sure had that $2million deal ready quickly.
I call " shenanigans" on the whole thing.

Oct. 23 2010 06:23 AM
Pat Lowery

If it is OK for Nina Tottenburg it should be OK for Juan. Actually, Juan's isn't hate commentary, Nina's is. Diversity of opinion seems to scare liberals. Your liberal bias comes through loud and clear in all your "reporting". The hosts of the Take Away sound very adolescent in their remarks. Truth distortion is your specialty.

Oct. 22 2010 08:28 PM
Trey from Detroit

Juan found out from Jonah Goldberg that it ain't 30 pieces of silver these days, it's *hundreds* of thousands and decided to jump!

Don't worry -- he planned this as part of his move and if he weren't fired for this, he have said something even worse, later, as part of the transition.

Oct. 22 2010 02:37 PM
geTayor from Bklyn., NY

h/t to: Joe from South Florida

Good decision. In NYC (NPR station WNYC) rather than endure the "over wrought" silliness of TT (doesn't their electro musical theme remind you of the scene in "Broadcast News" that parodies news show music.) I usually listen to Don Imus's show until Brian Lehrer comes on at 10 a.m. (Imus has a surprisingly eclectic musical offering)
This morning, I did not "report" to WNYC at 10 a.m. in response to the banning of Juan Williams. But by 11:30, the grating tone of of the "commercial" "T-jockey" had me turning back to Mr. Lehrer's restful dulcet tones (which, left-leaning content notwithstanding) is the the main reason I listen to any WNYC shows at all.
This morning had its own pain. The "Pledge Week" come-ons for "talk encompassing DIVERSE point-of-view" seemed particularly "New-speak" (in the Orwellian sense).

The sad part is that I cannot respond to NPR's intolerance by failing to re-new my subscription.
I don't have one.
I'll simply have to be satisfied with lobbying my governmental representatives to curtail whatever public funds are allocated to this priggish enterprise.
'Nuff said : )

Oct. 22 2010 02:03 PM
ak from miami, fl

why wasn't o'reilly fired for his idiotic comments on the view? is it because he works for FOX and they probably agree with his thoughts anyway?

Oct. 22 2010 01:37 PM

A few things here:
1. The issue is contractual - he violated his contract. Simple.
2. His comment is idiotic. When Muslims have committed terrorist acts they have done their best to NOT look Muslim (see the clean-shaven business-casual Mohammed Atta picture).
3. He's also showing himself to be a bigot. If someone had said "seeing black men makes me nervous I will be robbed" or even "my grandmother is a typical white woman" they would be vilified.
4. How are people so delusional as to think NPR is "hateful", funded by the "ultra-left" or run by left-wing extremists? Crazy.

Oct. 22 2010 01:10 PM
Peter from New York

Don't withhold contributions to your local public radio station. It was NPR that terminated Juan Williams, not your local public radio station.
As to the firing: I tend to agree it was a severe reaction to Mr. William's opinion, whether one agrees with the opinion or not.

Oct. 22 2010 12:58 PM
Joe from South Florida

I agree with most of the previous comments regarding the unjustified firing of Mr. Williams and this programs' biased reporting. What really turned my stomach this morning was the flippant way that the hosts (especially Headlee) talked about Mr. Williams' firing. I really don't enjoy this type of attitude when listening to a news story.

My local NPR station (WLRN) only recently began airing "the Takeaway." Previously it re-ran Morning Edition -- from 9:00 to 10:00 - which I much preferred. I can only imagine that Morning Edition costs too much and in budgeting their programming they had to settle for The Takeway. In the future I will listen to other radio programming during the 9:00 hour while lobby for WLRN to get rid of The Takeaway and give South Floridians back Morning Edition.

Oct. 22 2010 12:40 PM
D.L.McNamara from Staten Island

I enjoy listening to WNYC/NPR, but a left bias is undeniable. That is fine - if a private company. There is no justification for the tax dollars NPR and affiliates recieve. If we are concerned about information access, the public would be better off using those tax dollars to provide free wi-fi, opening up the internet to more individuals.

Oct. 22 2010 12:11 PM
Steve from White Plains

I do think that NPR had problems with Juan working for an organization (FOX) that has constantly attacked NPR and have called for their de-funding. Juan recent comment was just the final straw. FOX has cleverly used this unfortunate situation to its advantage, and has provided Juan (one of their few left leaning commentators) a nice three year contract.

Oct. 22 2010 11:28 AM
Robert from Florida from Miami Florida

As a news organization you should try not to be biased in your views and your actions. Just today on take away I heard a few mintues about Karl Rove and his efforts to influence the direction of the election by fund raising for commercials prior to the election. This focused me on Karl the 200 million and the fact that he was trying to control my thoughts. In a very brief statement you stated the unions are also doing this for the dems. I can only remember details of Karl Rove or Rover like the anouncer said and the fact that he wants to change public opinion. The bias is in your commentary every day!

Juan Williams was asked to give his opinion of how he feelt and as a viewer we appreciate honest commentary in opinion pieces. Conversely, the opinions or uneven coverage of the news is not appreciated!

This has hurt my opinion of NPR and I will be careful when listening.

Oct. 22 2010 10:12 AM
John Lobell from New York

There is only one topic for today, and that is NPR’s firing of Juan Williams. I will not go into detail on this, but with the comments by the CEO of NPR, this is nothing less than the left devouring its own. As someone old enough to have parents who lived through the Show Trials and Darkness at Noon, I am saddened to see that we are here again.
There is only one possible response on the part of WNYC, and that is withdrawal from the NPR network, and working with other INDEPENDENT public radio stations to share programming on an individual basis when appropriate.

Oct. 22 2010 10:01 AM
Dmitriy from Florida

This is a purely an issue of the job description, if this description stipulates that en employee cannot do A and B. If employee does A or B - expect to be canned.

Oct. 22 2010 09:55 AM
SW from amarillo

Stop all public support for NPr because of their treatment of Juan Williams. Freedom of speech has been violated. I will stop my support.

Oct. 22 2010 09:32 AM
No longer a Friend from Manhattan

Be Smart - Do not give money to WNYC

They are a Political Propaganda Machine

They just threw Juan Williams under the Bus

They just did a most unforgivable thing: They chopped up the Juan Williams story to bend the truth.

We don't need Hockenberry to think for us!

Oct. 22 2010 08:34 AM
R.A. from New York

Hey, Islam is not a Race - It is a religion

Change the title of this article and stop being Pollitically Correct

Your Hatred of all things - Is getting a bit tiresome: especially you turning on Juan Williams because he has a conversation with America. You have a conversation with only your anti-American, Leftist, Socialist Hating circle.

Not very interesting

Oct. 22 2010 08:22 AM
Hillary Brizell-DeLise from NY, NY

Many of us may think certain thoughts but we don't always voice them. As an NPR commentator, I always expect the role of devil's advocate but I don't think it's appropriate for a thoughtful person to verbalize the kind of reaction Juan did.
Commenter may be right that NPR was looking for an excuse because of Fox affiliation but I really am surprised Juan said what he did.
I don't think the psychologist got to the nub of the issue in her discussion.
(Great show, on a daily basis, John and Celeste!)
Hillary NY, NY

Oct. 22 2010 08:21 AM
Karen Lerner from Brooklyn New York

When you aired Mr Williams' comment this morning, you left out the most important part of his comment. Mr Williams, did go on to say that he acknowledged the genesis of the sterotypes and then went on to plead against the use of judging all muslims with the sterotype. He was debating Mr OReillly. MPR has done Mr Williams a terrible disservice. You have taken out of content and distorted his meaning.
My husband and I have been supporters of WNYC however, we will withold funds this year, since you seem to have limited free speech to a very limited point of view.

Oct. 22 2010 08:14 AM
I.M.Knotfooled from New York

You can not take any opposing views. You never post anything that goes against your worldview.

Comrade, you are Biased

Has anyone told you: Your job is not to be the thought POLICE

Oct. 22 2010 08:07 AM
I.M. Knotfooled from New York

You were unfair to Juan Williams. You never quoted the other things he said which put his comments in context. He stated you should not judge Islam by the acts of the Terrorists., right after the sound bite you used.

As always, it was a Hit Job.

Well eat your socialist hearts out: He gets 2 $$$Million Dollars - You get your hateful self to live with.

Comrades, you were faithful to the PARTY, even in the face of opposing truth.

Oct. 22 2010 08:02 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Juan Williams is considered a fair and honest journalist, he is well respected. He reported his feelings in this situation. They were looking for a reason to fire him because he works also for Fox, and the cause was probably pressure from the ultra-left donors.

Oct. 22 2010 08:02 AM
Mike Camardese

I think that Juan Williams made a huge mistake. If someone werre saying that they have a fear of all black men because of something that they witnessed in the past or if they railed against homosexuals because they felt threatened by their lifestyle, then they would be villified. This is no different. He used a forum, Fox television where he had an audience that hangs on every word and follows blindly, anything that foxers say. The Takeaway from his words had significant ramifications. His words could become the slogans of the miserable bigots who listen without a filter.

Oct. 22 2010 07:51 AM

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